How Do We Plan Cities For Children?

UNICEF has published a handbook on child-responsive urban planning, outlining strategies to create healthy, safe, green and prosperous cities. Providing healthy and sustainable diets is an important part of this, and EAT has contributed to the handbook as part of our ongoing collaboration with UNICEF called CHEW – Children Eating Well.

Cities are expected to be home to 60% of the global population by 2030. They are often perceived as places of opportunity and prosperity, but are also home to vulnerable groups experiencing inequity. Children in these groups are often especially vulnerable.

The 11th Sustainable Development Goal is to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” Considerable challenges remain to achieve this goal and are linked to the immense scale and rapid speed of urbanization. Additionally, cities’ impact on the environment and climate is a growing concern as approximately 75 % of CO2 emissions stem from them.

As a response to these challenges, UNICEF has developed a handbook called Shaping urbanization for children: A handbook on child-responsive urban planning. It identifies useful concepts, tools and practices needed to create thriving and equitable cities for children. The handbook outlines the “why, what and how” to plan cities for children, and aims to inspire and guide all stakeholders involved with planning, designing and managing urban areas.

An important part of child-responsive urban planning is ensuring that children have access to healthy and sustainable food, emphasized in Principle 7 of the handbook. EAT and UNICEF have already paid increased attention to this challenge through CHEW – Children Eating Well – a programmatic work-stream seeking to improve the understanding of how food systems can provide all children with adequate nutritious food within planetary boundaries.

Children are often among the most vulnerable in a city and if urban areas are planned with this group in mind, we will ensure healthy, safe, inclusive, green and prosperous cities, not only for children, but for all current and future citizensJens Aerts, Urban Planning Specialist, UNICEF

EAT and C40 are further supporting cities’ efforts in tackling urban food system challenges through the Food Systems Network. The network consists of over 40 cities across the world working towards reduced carbon emissions, enhanced climate resilience and greater health equity and sustainability. Children’s role in the city has received increased attention among the cities in the network, with a focus on school meals and the role of education in shaping the way citizens interact with food.

EAT is excited to follow and help advance this important area of work to make sure our future generations can grow up in environments that are healthy, safe, sustainable and inclusive.



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